But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Early on Resurrection morning, before the normal time of waking, the first visitors to the tomb are a band of women undertaking the task which they would have felt to be a part of their role in society during those days. Quietly, perhaps in a sense of “going through the motions,” and probably not remembering the words of Jesus, somberly they approach the tomb. To their amazement the stone has been rolled away. Has somebody beaten them to this task? Was there a sense of foreboding even as they made their way to the tomb? Has somebody stolen their much loved Jesus’ body? Very quickly all such thoughts are dispelled from mind as the words of the two men ring true, bringing about the truth of what had happened since that fateful day they had witnessed which we know as “Good Friday.”
From then on they seem no more women doing what might have been thought of as a menial task, but are now doubted and their accounts reported as “idle words,” that is until Peter comes on the scene. Then somehow, everything slots into place, the words of their dead Saviour become as alive as He is Himself. The words of New Life resounding loud and clear as the truth of what had happened sinks into their understanding, their thinking and their experience.
However, I wonder how often the Lord might say to us the words which the two men, usually assumed to be angels, said to the faithful women? “Why do you look for the living among the dead. He is not here he has risen.” Do we still dwell at times as though we are in the days following Jesus’ crucifixion rather than realising the full impact of the truth that three days later Jesus arose and IS alive? Dare I say that the only way in which we can truly be His witnesses is as vessels of this new life, living as His Easter people 365 days of the year.
Lord of new life, new hope, new victory, we praise you! Lord of the impossible, bursting through the fear of death, to release us from this last enemy, we worship you! Lord of our lives, transform us with your new life, that we may truly reflect your resurrection glory day by day, we adore you! Lord of new life, we own you as our Lord, the triumphant One, this day, for time and for eternity. Amen.
Verena Walder, Lay Preacher and Elder, Tabernacle URC Mumbles
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